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tv   [untitled]    May 19, 2012 9:30am-10:00am EDT

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with is to set up kind of a private counterintelligence service. let's go see if we can find out who the germans are in town. and, you know, are there people saying pro-nazi things, which could be. the people could have come from the spanish -- from spain, which is now run by franco and made their way out to havana, and the idea was that ernest, since he knows all these people around town, he's going to use them as his subagents and siphon off all this useful information and get it to the embassy. he is given an expense account of $500 a month. doesn't sound like much now. but in those days, that wasn't bad for a total amateur intel officer. the embassy calls it the crime section. that's its cover name.
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ernest soon renames it the crook factory. and if you go looking for it in the history books, you generally find it as the crook factory. this is kind of -- the crook factory is not a really well-functioning intelligence organization. as you could imagine. the problem is real, the idea is not terrible, but to use amateurs in this way, you're really opening yourself up for a lot of unusual challenges. and what happens is his sources gather their information, they come out to the finka and they have staff meetings. now, since they're not your average government employee, they don't sit quietly around a conference table and wait to be called on. there's drinking, carrying on, and whatnot into the early hours of the morning. ernest pulls himself together,
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generally types something up, takes it into the embassy a lot of times himself. but the quality of this stuff is all over the map. some of it is just laughable. there are a thousand german submarines coming this way. germans didn't have a thousand submarines in 1942. so it's either laughable or it's just not that important. who had dinner with whom last night. and what they said. in the end, the crook factory sort of tapers off and is dissolved for a couple of reasons. one is that ernest's heart really isn't in it. he liked the idea at first, but then he thought i wonder if there's something else i could do for the war effort. the other is that the embassy got kind of disenchanted with his reporting and wanted something a little better. there is kind of -- or
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different. and that, in the long run, turned out to be the fbi. the irony is that there was actually at least one german spy in havana. it was a guy named hines looning. he didn't want to get sent to the eastern front in uniform, so he said i'm going to be a spy. they said well, you speak spanish, you've lived in latin america, we're going to send you to savannah and keep an eye on shipping. he does some of that, but a lot of the time he's drinking and chasing women. so he's just the kind of guy that you would think the crook factory would uncover, but poor looning is not uncovered by them but by alert british censors in their censoring mail in bermuda, so they've arranged for a lot of the mail crossing the atlantic to funnel through bermuda. they look at it. they see anomalies in looning's
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letters. he writes cover letters and there's secrets in the writing. why would anybody write this? the cover writing doesn't make much sense. it's not much better than how are you, i'm fine. they develop secret writing and they find looning is a spy and the poor young man is eventually captured and shot. so what is ernest's other idea? he's not through with the war yet, as i said. he's through with the crook factory, but he wants to continue serving his country and doing something for the war effort, and he goes to the ambassador -- kind of a lot of nerve. he goes to the ambassador and he says look, i've done all this great stuff for you. i set up this crook factory and we did all this reporting, and now i want you to support me on something else. and the ambassador heard him out
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and he said well, what's that? he says i want to go looking for german submarines off the northern coast of cuba. have we heard this before? is this part of hemingway family lore? lester after the war -- lester is always the little brother. he's got to keep quiet, but after the war, lester says ernest got the idea from me. we can't prove that, but there is circumstantial evident to that effect. so ernest, though, he's going to go one -- he's going to go do his brother one better. he's going to outdo his brother by not only finding the germans. okay, reporting their presence, doing the naval intelligence thing. but he's going to sink submarines as well from the pielar, and the idea is that the
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pielar is going to pretend to fish and that's going to be its cover, there's going to be fishing. he had another cover as well, which was doing oceangraphic research for the natural museum of history in new york there. were a couple instances that he was aware of german submarines approaching fishing boats and saying we'll take your catch and your fresh food. so ernest says i'll wait for them to come alongside and then my high lie play rers going to lob hand grenades down the open hatches and the other members of the crew are going to machine gun the germans on deck. now, say what you want about the office of naval intelligence, they don't think this is a good idea. probably put it in the same category -- maybe they've got a hemingway file, i don't know. here's lester's ideas. we didn't like those. here's ernest's ideas, we don't like them much better.
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there's a wonderful guy there that ernest knows who's just his kind of man. his name is john thomasson. he's a world war i hero, he's a writer, he's written short stories, he's a sketch artist and he's a heavy drinker. he and ernest have gotten along very well. thomasson says this isn't going to work. if you try this, you're going get this killed. ernest says i don't care, i want to do it anyway. ernest was not a guy that you said no to easily, and they gave in. so the office of naval intelligence -- this is all very hush, hush, very secret. ernest loves that. the office of naval intelligence sends him gear so he can locate german submarines. they send him some hand grenades
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to lob down the hatchet while the germans are just finding themselves on deck and paying no attention to what's going on around them. they give them weapons and ammunition and one marine nco to make it all work. so off ernest sales into the north of cuba. i'm not going to point again. but just take my word for it. where those lines converge on the north coast of cuba, that's the general operating area for ernest, and over -- the second half of 1942 and much of 1943, that's where ernest is coming. they don't see much. they see probably -- they probably sighted one german submarine and it was going the other way, so at the end of day,
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this mission is a really empty handed. after the war, it's kind of interesting, one of the questions i asked myself was well, did the germans -- what did the germans do around here and how did they refuel their submarines? did they have these -- or even think of having these secret supply depots that ernest and lester thought they might have? as far as i can tell, the answer is no. the concept the germans came up with was having submarines that were outfitted as supply ships. so what they would do with a forward deployed submarine, one that's operating in this area, is to arrange a rendezvous with the milk cow, as they called it, and they would be resupplied with food and ammunition and they would carry on. but maybe it was worth a try in 1942. this wasn't the most ridiculous thing. ernest wasn't the only guy to try this. there's some literature out there about what's called
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hooligans navy, private american soldiers who volunteered and the navy accepted them to take their boats and patrol various parts of the east coast looking for germans. on this one, the score is yeah, good try, ernest, too bad it didn't pan out for you. ernest does live to fight another day. now we're in late 1943, so the germans have sunk all that american shipping, especially in the first part of 1942 while we're getting on a war footing. we enter the war in december of 1941 and we're playing catch-up ball in early 1942. but by late 1943, the focus of the war has shifted back across
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the atlantic. american troops have invaded north africa. the brits have pushed the germans east from egypt and the americans and the brits are talking about invading the continent of europe. so martha is the only woman in ern east's life who really was close to a match for him. her writing, both fiction and nonfiction, stands on its own two feet. she's about ten years younger than ernest. she's going, ernest, cuba is yesterday's story. we need today's story. we need to go to europe and position ourselves for the invasion, for what's going to happen out there. he stays home. he writes her. he's an amazing writer letter. he writes five, six, seven
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letters a day. he's writing eight, nine, ten pages to various correspondents. she goes off to europe and she's doing a good job as a correspondent. the pressure is building up on her. how am i going to get ernest over here and save my marriage, because she's not stupid. she still wants to save her marriage. and who does she turn to to save her marriage? she goes to the oss. and on her travels in europe,
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she happens to go to bari italy and encounters the oss base chief there and it's none other than bob joyce. bob joyce, like a lot of people in world war ii thought the state department was too stuffy, too conventional, no room to breathe. i'm getting out of here. i'm going to find something exciting to do during the war. so he leaves the foreign service and joins the oss and they send him to europe. marcia says to him, bob, can you help? ernest wants me to come home. at one point she says i am prepared to obey the orders of my master and commander. she usually doesn't talk like that. it would really be better if we could figure out a way for oss to get him over here. bob joyce says okay, i'll do what i can, it writes an amazing series of messages across the atlantic to oss headquarters saying hey, it goes to donovan's
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office. it's kind of personal. goes to the assistant director of oss and joyce is saying let's get joyce in. if you guys get in touch with him, arrange a meeting face to face with him. you'll see all the things he can bring to the table for oss. he's got foreign language, he's got area knowledge. he knows about special operations. after all, he wrote "for whom the bell tolls." he was basically a special operator, an early special operator. and he's run this intelligence service for us in cuba. he can do great things for oss. he senses some kind of pushback. he senses the pushback, even before it occurs and he basically adds verbiage to the effect of so what if he's been married three times. so what if he's not deferential to people in high places.
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so what if he was acting on a loyalist, which is the communist supported side in the spanish civil war. it doesn't work. oss gives the -- they listen long enough and they think about it and they circulate the paper around the oss looking for somebody who would be willing to take ernest on, and the decision is basically too prominent a figure, too much of an individualist, we can't have him here. they look at special intelligence, which is the espionage side of the house, running agents. how they look at morale obligations, which is black propaganda. nobody thinks they want this 45-year-old out on a battlefield doing tactical intelligence. they don't even look at that. and they send a cable back to joyce saying thank for the idea. this is a nonstarter. we're not going to sign ernest
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up for the oss. probably a good call, ernest had mixed feelings about the oss. he loved some of the guys. he loved joyce. he loved what bumbi did in the oss. but he was really critical of anybody -- 9/11 the oss, which is the haven of free thinkers in the american war effort. even in the oss, there's still a lot of conventional bureaucracy and government behavior, and this just drives ernest crazy and he writes a letter after the war, he says yeah, there were some great people in oss, but there was also a lot of chicken dot, dot, dot in oss. so ernest does not have an official relationship with oss at this point. but he does go to europe. martha finally -- her argument carries the day. off they go to -- they both go off to europe.
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marcia's been a correspondent for collier's. ernest arranges for himself to be the correspondent for colliers, which really means a significant demotion for martha. and ernest gets a seat on a plane across the atlantic, gets in touch with martha and says i asked them, but they won't take women. i'm sorry, you can't come on the plane. i'll fly over and meet you there. i've arranged passage for you. the passage that martha got was on an ammunition ship crossing the atlantic. anyway, they both make it to london by may 1944. d day, remember, is coming up in june 1944. there ernest hangs out with a lot of journalists, writers, socialists, meets pamela churchill, who is randolph's
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wife, and who eventually runs off with avril hereman. he meets -- in this kind of milieu, that's where he beats david bruce, who is the head of oss for europe. he's an interesting guy. he's a virginia aristocrat. he has married the second or third richest woman in the united states. he is the son of an ambassador and loves the finer things in life. and one of the things that he comes to really love is ernest. they run into each other in london, and after they ran into each other, talk about fan mail, bruce goes back and writes in his diary that he had just met hemingway and remembers him as
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"patriarchal with his gray beard, imposing physique, much like god as painted by michelangelo." so talk about fan mail. anyway, here's ernest as he's getting ready to go to europe. he's grown this beard, by the way, because of irritation from the sun during the war patrols on pielar. so ernest eventually shaves his beard and goes to europe and he is there as a war correspondent. he's driving around the battlefield looking for excitement. ernest gets a jeep from the army and he gets a private, and that's the sort of task force hemingway, and he's going around looking for good stories. the big story in august 1944 is going to be the liberation of paris. everybody can feel it building. nobody knows exactly how it's going to unfold or where the
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stepping off point is going to be for paris. ernest is doing a pretty good job as sort of a journalist tactical recon guy figuring this stuff out, and he sort of guesses that it's probably going to be that's the region he targets as he's driving around. here he is reading the map with the private, private red pelkey lucky to survive the war because ernest got him into a lot of tight corners. ernest while driving with red bumps into a group of french resistors who he later describes as, you know, naked to the waist armed with -- summer in france, not totally unreasonable armed with all kinds of unconventional weapons of various sorts but really enthusiastic. they happen to be communists and
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as many of you may know the french resistance kind of two major flavors sort of the gaulleist right and the other flavor. these guys happen to be communists. they kind of elect him unofficial leader. they have a leader of their own but they say that, you know, whatever ernest does, that's going to be okay with us. and so now task force hemingway is red pelkey, ernest and these 12 guys from the french resistance. ernest more officially, unofficially take your pick, he comes up with u.s. uniforms, weapons and ammunition for these guys. and then he -- while he's doing this, while he's doing these, he runs into david k.e. bruce and bruce is kind of doing the same thing, getting ready for paris and ernest says, hey, david, i've got it all figured out.
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it's going to happen at this place called rambouillet 23 miles west, looks at the map. everybody has to come through here. why don't we go there? and bruce says, oh, okay. you know, so at this point ernest is kind of leading american intelligence operations in for a day or two in that theater. and so here they are in rambouillet, that's bruce on the left. that's the french resistance guy in the middle and there's ernest on the right. ernest, by the way is kind of overweight at this point. he's six feet. he's 220 or so during the war. kind of a little extra to love for a bit. when bruce gets to rambouillet, he gets there independently. ernest has set himself up in a hotel. pretty good kitchen and a good cellar. has to have a good wine cellar
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and finds ernest's bedroom. this is how he describes it. ernest's bedroom was the nerve center of these operations. boys and girls reporting from as far away as versailles. there in his shirt sleeves he gave audience and he gave intelligence to refugees from paris and deserters from the german army. army gear littered the floor. revolvers were heaped carelessly on the bed. the bathtub was filled with hand grenades and basin with brandy bottles while under the bed was a cache of army whiskey. i've never seen it but i'll bet it did exist, v whiskey, maybe. bob kappa, the famous photographer encountered the same scene and wrote in his autobiography, 15 enthusiastic men from the french resistance were taking after the large charismatic american would spoke
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their language copying his sailor bear walk and spitting short sentences. he was always famous for them from the corner of their mouths in different languages. so this is kind of the -- this is the manning table here. and this group establishes an intelligence ops center in this hotel in rambouillet and the three in the picture, they run tactical intelligence ops for four or five days before paris is liberated. what do they do? ernest goes on a few recon, where are the germans? it's kind of recon by fire but recon by german fire. ernest goes until the germans shoot at him then pulls his head down and says, they must be over there. slightly more sophisticated ops are conventional patrolling, capturing and interrogating
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german prisoners, capture more german prisoners than they can handle and don't have people to guard them so ernest says, well, just have them take off their pants. they won't run away and put them to work in the kitchen. if you went down to the kitchen there's a bunch of german prisoners who don't have anything on below the waist and ernest has them peeling potatoes. [ laughter ] so they use local knowledge and talk to people who live in the area that the troops are going to pass through on the way to paris and get the information about the germans and the passability of roads and this sort of thing. it's good intel and bruce makes sure it works its way up the chain, gets to the operators who are going to need it. it's not spectacular. it's not war winning intel. it's good solid tactical intelligence. so, you know, ernest gets at least a "b," "b" plus for this.
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then the push to paris happens. rambouillet fills up with everybody, french armor division, charles de gaulle, a large group of famous and not so famous journalists who ernest pushes around. he kind of appoints himself head pressman there and actually slaps some of them around when they complain about how -- why does he get the good rooms and the best food and wine and he kind of pushes them around and gives them -- one is andy rooney, by the way. [ laughter ] >> bunch of senior intelligence officers show up and then it's off to paris. ernest is in the van with bruce of this french armored division. of course, they've got to stop for a couple of firefights. ernest never drove through a firefight they didn't like. then get into paris and it's pandemonium. ernest's wish has sort of come true. this picture doesn't capture th
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chaos. bruce's diary captures a little. as they're driving through paris bruce later said it was impossible to refuse the gifts thrust upon us. in the course of the afternoon we had beer, cider, white and red bordeaux, white and red burgundy, champagne from whiskey, cognac, armagnac and calvados. i hope they were still mission capable after doing all this. on the next day bruce and hemingway liberate the hotel. they go into the bar and by this time the entourage is quite large. and bruce orders 50 martinis which gets served up to everybody in his group and bruce writes in his diary, he says, you know, they weren't really very good.
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talk about that kind of, you know, the virginia aristocrat, only the best for him. but he's fair and he says, you know, we stayed for dinner, and dinner was really, really good. there were about 12 people who stayed for dinner including ernest, somebody wrote on the menu, we think we took paris and then the 12 people at the table sign up. so this is pretty much the end of the story of ernest and american intelligence in world war ii. he spends the rest of the war, he spends a lot of time in the ritz. he goes over to the hotel scribe nearby and this is a fanciful portrayal. that's ernest sitting at the table in the foreground. the guy with the patch is william l. shirer and janet flanner who wrote for paris for "the new yorker."
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apart from being in paris and doing the swaunt thing he does get out to the front and he spends -- he exposes himself to a considerable amount of danger as a war correspondent as the american troops are going towards and entering germany. around this time, bumby, you may remember, his luck ran out in the fall of 1944. he was captured. he talks with oss about a possible mission to liberate bumby, wiser heads prevail. it's not attempted. it probably would have been disastrous. after the battle of the bulge, ernest goes home and resumes his life now without martha. in cuba and here he is arriving home on a pan am airplane. so that's not the end of the story. there's been another window open e
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